Monday, April 13, 2015

Massive Demonstrations in Washington Against the President of Sierra Leone

Demonstrators in DC
On Saturday April 11th 2015, Sierra Leoneans from across the continental USA and some from neighboring Canada descended on the U.S. Capital, Washington DC, to demonstrate against the illegal removal of their country's Vice President and other negative developments in the West African country, including the embezzlement of millions of dollars donated toward to the eradication of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the country by its authorities.

Message to the President
A few weeks ago, the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Sam Sumana, placed himself under quarantine when a member of his staff reported died from Ebola. Seizing this opportunity a group of senior officials close to the President hastily convened a meeting of the VP's opponents and dismissed him from the ruling party on bogus and unsubstantiated allegations. The President then quickly proceeded to strip the Vice President of his elected position, even though the country's current 1991 constitution gave him no such authority. The Vice President was directly elected on the same ticket as the President himself. Even the attorney general at the time the constitution was written stated that the president had no such authority to dismiss the VP, but the power hungry President decided not to listen and proceeded to appoint the Ambassador to China and former Secretary General of his party, Victor Foh, as Vice President, even though Victor Foh had a far longer list of scandals than the man he was appointed to replace.
Police Controlling Crowd

Sierra Leone has a very tormented political history. The country experienced a devastating civil war throughout the 90s. The war was started on the pretext of ridding the country of the nepotism and corruption that characterized the one-party government at the time, and many Sierra Leoneans today are worried that the growing dictatorial tendencies of the President, and his continuous effort to undermine the separation of powers and the checks and balances built into the country's constitution, is setting the foundation for another bloodbath. The country is growing more unstable as he grows more tyrannical and becomes bolder in disregarding the country's constitutional limits, encouraged by close advisers who are the few benefiting under his rule. Remarkably, it was the same party now in power that set the stage for the long civil war in Sierra Leone that lasted from 1991 to 2002.
Organizers Addressing Crowd

The growing use of armed police paramilitary personnel to control even small demonstrations, the compromise of the neutrality of the country's parliamentary speaker by a parliamentary coup, the use of bogus lawsuits in compromised courts to strip opposition politicians of clear electoral victories in favor of ruling party members, the financing of journalists in and out of the country to spread propaganda and lies against political opponents and cover up incidents of corruption, the use of public resources for partisan affairs and political patronage, are just some of the few examples of the slide back into the sad politics of the decades of the 70s and 80s that the is experiencing under the current regime.

The removal of the Vice President Sam Sumana, even though he is not a very popular politician, seems to have been a step too far, as many Sierra Leoneans weary of a repeat of history have decided that enough is enough and are now calling for the President to respect the rule of law and curb his executive excesses. The proliferation of social media has also helped make political propaganda less effective as everybody has now become a reporter in the country and government lies are now countered in real time.
The Young and Old

So on Saturday, thousands of Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life; young and old, men and women, belonging to both the opposition and the President's own party, decided to put aside their differences and converge on Lafayette Park for a White House protest in the U.S. Capital aimed at exposing the negative developments in their country. 

Massive People Power
The protests, arranged under the banner of Concerned Sierra Leoneans USA, were deliberately organized as a national event devoid of political, tribal or regional divide and the protesters were successful to get so many Sierra Leoneans to participate. However, the Rev. Kabbs Kanu, a portly political refugee and a noted sycophant who was appointed a Sierra Leone Minister Plenipotentiary, received money from Sierra Leone to sabotage the event and proceeded to do so by arranging a counter demonstration. Unfortunately for Kabs Kanu, his counter demonstration attracted only a few shameless and misguided Sierra Leoneans and a spattering of homeless people they had paid to join them. 
Kabs Kanu and the Dry Yai Crew

We Don't Care About Constitution
Saturday's APC counter demonstration on behalf of President Koroma was an unmitigated disaster, as thousands of patriots marched in favor of their country, the rule of law and the return to proper constitutional order. Many also took the opportunity to vent their feelings against the heartless squander of millions of dollars meant to fight Ebola in the country. However the yellow journalists of Cocorioko and Patriotic Vanguard shamefacedly reported that their counter demonstrations by the partisan group was a major success, even though thousands of demonstrators had turned out in broad day light to attend the power grab demonstrations. A Pastor who had attended the demonstration in support of Concerned Sierra Leoneans USA remarked that the Rev. Kabs Kanu was the most dishonest bold face liar to ever call himself a Reverend in the history of Sierra Leone. "You should at least lie with some shame," he added.
Ernest Bai Koroma
Sierra Leone Patriots

On the eve of the demonstrations Kabs Kanu and some of his supporters put out a recording in Mende and Krio alleging that the organizers including Mustapha Wai, Jesmed Suma and some others had received $200,000 to arrange the demonstrations, however most who heard the recording dismissed it as just another example of how low the government of Sierra Leone can go to damage the credibility of its opponents. 


London, UK Demonstrations
The organizers have vowed to keep up their peaceful protests until the president starts to realize that Sierra Leone will no longer go back to the politics of yesterday. Plans for demonstrations in Sierra Leone have even hampered by the continuing Ebola crisis in the country. The organizers also expressed their immense gratitude to the thousands of Sierra Leoneans who decided to forego their usual activities and join in demonstrations for love of country.

The US demonstrations come on the heel of massive demonstratrions of similar nature held in London a few weeks ago.
London


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